Webmaster's Pick: Five fantastic Mozilla Firefox addons, extensions
Those that know me know that I love Mozilla Firefox. I love the way it looks and feels. I love the fact that it's open-source. But I really love the idea that it's capabilities can be extended or expanded through the use of addons.
Mozilla's addon site, which is located at http://addons.mozilla.org, contains dozens of addons that can be easily downloaded and installed at a single click of the mouse, and lets Mozilla fans customize their Firefox to suit their specific needs.
I frequent the site quite often and have found a a number of Firefox addons that I have grown to love. While some of them are a better fit for the tech savvy, a number of them are well suited for the vast majority of users, beginner or expert.
1. Firefox Showcase
I spend a lot of time online, browsing all kinds of websites. It isn't uncommon for me to utilize multiple browser tabs and browser windows at the same time. And Firefox Showcase makes navigating between all of those open tabs and windows in Mozilla Firefox a whole lot easier.
When Showcase is invoked, it takes a picture, or snapshot, of every website that Mozilla Firefox has open and then displays them in an arrangement of rows and columns. If a particular snapshot is clicked on, the user is taken to the browser window or tab that contains that particular website.
While Showcase can be invoked by pressing the F12 key, it can also be accessed by icons that can be placed on the browser's primary menu bar. Showcase also integrates with the All-in-One Sidebar addon.
Formerly known as Foxmarks, Xmarks is a must-have for people who aren't always on the same computer and want their browser bookmarks to follow them everywhere they go. The latest version also does the same thing with your website passwords, if you want it to.
I find Xmarks useful because if I bookmark a website on my notebook computer, for example, the bookmark will appear on my desktop computer as well. I don't have to remember which bookmarks are on which computer.
Once Xmarks is installed on each of your computers, changes to your bookmarks get synchronized with the Xmarks server. You must register with the Xmarks server and create an account to use the service, but the sign up is free.
Not everyone spends a lot of time downloading large files, but for those that do, FlashGot is a welcome addition. While FlashGot doesn't actually manage large downloads, it helps integrate the download application with Mozilla Firefox, helping bridge the gap between the two.
FlashGot actually jumps to action when the download link has been clicked on. FlashGot simply passes the URL, or address, to the download along to the download application. It's a fundamentally simple addon, but it is pretty handy!
4. Speed Dial
Like many people, I'm a creature of habit. And when it comes to browsing the World Wide Web, I frequent many of the same websites. Without Speed Dial, I have to manually type the addresses in the address bar or fetch them from a large bookmark menu, which gets old really fast.
Speed Dial is really convenient because it makes the process a lot more visual. When Speed Dial is invoked, it displays a page with an assortment of small website snapshots, or thumbnails. Once one of the snapshots is clicked on, Firefox loads the corresponding page. It's sort of like browser bookmarks with pictures.
5. All-in-One Sidebar
As the name suggests, the All-in-One Sidebar displays a customize-able sidebar that docks to the left or right of the browser window. It's an interesting addon that really doesn't usurp it's true potential until it is combined with other addons, like Firefox Showcase, for example.
The sidebar provides a fast, unified and convenient location for many browser features, such as bookmarks, downloads, extensions/addons and visual themes.
Another nice feature of the sidebar is that it easily integrates with Firefox Showcase. With a click of the mouse, click-able small screenshots, or thumbnails, of every open window or tab display in the sidebar, in contrast to a separate pop-up window.